After describing why I liked the pen name Kittie Phoenix, I had planned to discuss “Living Romans 08.” Then, I heard a news story.
I really, really, really wanted it to be my imagination–a foggy nightmare shaped by my maternal grandmother’s love for horror stories, my memories of bad things as a child, and my “mother’s imagination” gone horribly wrong. After a few hours of sleep brought on by physical exhaustion, I found myself tossing and turning, a clear indication that my mind needed to write the wrong and work things out.
Please review the link http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-tampa/police-family-ate-meat-contaminated-with-lsd in another window and come on back for some long post-midnight meanderings.
For some reason, my first thoughts were “Please, not again.” I started having memories, almost mini-flashbacks of things from my childhood. I have no proof that these things actually occurred as they happened before the ubiquitous nature of the Internet was fully realized as an economic boon as well as good documentation to be considered as part of your permanent record.
I remembered how there were years early in my life where we’d get apples or oranges at trick-or-treat. Then some sick individual decided to lace fruit with razor blades. After a few years, our small community just stopped giving out anything that wasn’t packaged at a factory. In larger communities, hospitals x-rayed the Halloween hauls of their neighbors. I remember snippets of adult conversation I doubt anyone thought I’d hear.
“Why would anyone do that to a poor child?”
“Why didn’t the parents check things?”
“What if they’d put something on the razor blade into the apple?”
The words were disturbing enough when viewed through the prism of a child’s mind. Now, 30+ years later, I am a polished, well-educated, worldly woman with children of my own, and those words take on a frightening new level of horrific meaning that won’t let me alone tonight.
Then I jump to the years where a Tylenol wasn’t safe. Someone had put cyanide in them. Imagine being a mom with a long day at work. You’re tired and cranky, and your head is pounding. You gruffly send the kids to bed and just pop a Tylenol or two.
The problem: Instead of waking up the next morning fresh and ready to make things right with your kids, your soul opens its eyes somewhere in the night to the light of eternity. Meanwhile, the shell of your body is there, waiting to impose a horrific image on your precious kids and ensuring they spend years in therapy for real and imagined hurts that you are no longer around to help them process.
Next, I jump to the times I’d be riding in the car with my mom. I loved going places with my mom. Unlike my dad who told the best stories of fantastic literary fiction, my mom could tell wonderful tales based in real life. Sometimes, though, those tales weren’t so heart warming. My mom was a child of the 60s, with all that entails.
She could talk about the Vietnam vets who were never the same, painting a picture so strong that to this day Vietnam vets get an extra measure of respect from me. She talked about shell shock (AKA post-traumatic stress disorder) and Agent orange and coming home to a place that no longer appreciated the work you did in their name.
She talked about the fringe of the hippie movement, including something about trumpets and Rosicrucians (yeah, that’s one I think she was intentionally vague in her retelling).
The one set of stories that always got me were the college acquaintances who got a bad batch of LSD. Somehow, something in the batches was tweaked by any number of things, and the phrase “a bad trip” took on a whole new meaning. For what may have been a momentary lapse in making wise choices, there were people who had bad trips, but these bad trips repeated themselves without pattern or warning throughout the individual’s entire life, similar to the movie Groundhog Day, even without further exposure to LSD. The bad trips were so bad and so random that these individuals often lost their driver’s license, a very scary prospect for someone who believes in independence and rugged individualism.
Finally, I thought of all the temporary tattoos and pop rocks I wasn’t allowed to accept from my childhood friends. They might have been laced with LSD. Do ya feel lucky? Girl, do ya feel lucky? I never did, so I walked away from things that might have been simple, child-like gestures of true attempts at friendship. What I would have given for Snopes!
Why does this all hit me now? I have three precious angels with hidden disabilities. I want to latch onto life and inhale all the joy and wonder I can find that I can so I can truly live for as long as God permits. I want to see my children grow up healthy and happy without the nightmare memories of razor blades in apples, poison disguised as medicine, and children’s objects used to cause misery and heartache.
Sadly, our world is fallen and broken. What I want for my daughters is just chocolate-flavored smoke circles from the pipe dream every parent has: a perfect world centered on truth, justice, and the American way with life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness for all.
However, it’s just that: a dream. The world is too imperfect. I would be one of the most irresponsible parents in the universe if I didn’t at least try to make my children understand that there is evil in the universe we cannot explain. They may not be neurologically wired to get it, but I have to try.
I know the news story is probably just somehow a one-off incident: one maniac with too much time and too little to do to contribute to society wants a one-time, 15 minutes of fame with no regard for the lives impacted or the minds disturbed.
And the alternate is just too horrific to consider, even for the likes of Stephen King or Dean Koontz…